Introduction to Titus
The epistle of Paul to Titus is one of his three pastoral epistles, the others being I and II Timothy. It was written about the same time as I Timothy, sometime after Paul was released from his first imprisonment, about A.D. 64. It is also quite similar to I Timothy, each being written to a young friend and disciple for guidance in organizing and leading a church—Timothy at Ephesus, and Titus on the island of Crete.
Titus is not mentioned at all in Acts, although he was one of Paul’s own converts (note Titus 1:4). Titus was a Gentile and had been taken by Paul to the Jerusalem council, probably as living proof that God was saving Gentiles as well as Jews (note Galatians 2:1-3; Acts 15:12).
Titus was of great help to Paul in the work at Corinth and, in fact, is mentioned nine times in II Corinthians. He probably helped Paul in the writing of II Corinthians, and carried the letter for Paul from Macedonia to Corinth (II Corinthians 8:16-18).
When Paul visited Crete sometime after his release from prison, he took Titus, and then left him to help organize and supervise the new churches there (Titus 1:5). This was a very challenging assignment, for the Cretians were notoriously difficult to deal with (Titus 1:12). Paul’s letter to Titus was written to help him in this work and also to encourage him to stand firm in his convictions and his ministry. Finally, Paul requested Titus to meet him in Nicopolis, a city on the Macedonian coast (mentioned only in Titus 3:12) to help him minister during the winter. Some writers think it was in Nicopolis that Paul was again arrested and sent back to Rome.
Titus is mentioned in Paul’s last letter, as having gone to Dalmatia (II Timothy 4:10), a Roman province just northwest of Macedonia, presumably to evangelize and organize churches in that unreached area.
1:2 before the world. “World” here is aionios, from which we derive aeons; “began” is inferred, though the word is not in the original manuscript. The concept is that of a space/time continuum. The phrase could be read “before the space/time cosmos.” That is, God promised eternal life to His people even before our universe of space and time existed. The same concept is in II Timothy 1:9.
1:3 God our Saviour. Note “God our Saviour” in Titus 1:3, and “the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour” in Titus 1:4. Note also Titus 2:10 and Titus 3:6, as well as Titus 2:13. It is clear that the Scriptures regard Jesus Christ as God.
1:4 Titus. Titus was a young convert of Paul’s but was a full-blooded Greek, unlike Timothy, who was half Jewish (Galatians 2:3; Acts 16:1). Titus had apparently accompanied Paul on his first missionary journey, or at least part of it (Galatians 2:1). More recently, probably after Paul’s first release from prison, he had been with Paul on a trip to the island of Crete, where Paul had left him to get the Cretian churches properly organized and functioning. Thus, Paul’s letter to Titus and his two letters to Timothy (who had been left in Ephesus for a similar purpose) are known as Paul’s pastoral epistles. Like I Timothy, the letter to Titus seems to have been written between Paul’s two imprisonments.
1:5 ordain elders. The “elders” and “bishops” (Titus 1:7) are the same. See I Timothy 3:1-12 for the qualifications of bishops and deacons.
1:9 Holding fast. Compare II Timothy 1:13. It is vital that pastors and teachers guard both the Word and its words against its opponents.
1:9 gainsayers. It is important not only to exhort those who believe the Word to act on it, but also to convince those who reject it, being ready always to give an appropriate answer to problems and objections (I Peter 3:15).
1:10 the circumcision. The inhabitants of Crete were generally belligerent and were of a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds, including many displaced Jews. This posed a great challenge to those who would establish sound Christian churches there, and Paul wanted to counsel and help Titus in whatever way he could.
1:12 prophet of their own. Here Paul is quoting a Cretian poet and reputed prophet by the name of Epeminides who lived about six hundred years before Christ. Paul confirmed that this deplorable reputation was still valid in his day (Titus 1:13).
1:12 slow bellies. That is, “lazy gluttons.”
1:14 Jewish fables. “Jewish fables” were an amalgamation of pagan myths and Jewish extra-Biblical traditions, superimposed on the Old Testament Scriptures. The “commandments of men” were ascetic prohibitions and prescriptions that had no Biblical basis, although Pharisaical hypocrisy may have pretended they did.
1:15 nothing pure. “The plowing of the wicked, is sin,” and even “the sacrifice of the wicked is abomination” (Proverbs 21:4, 27).